ISLAMABAD - In response to recent remarks by Prime Minister Imran Khan about the judiciary, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa Wednesday said that it is the government, not the courts, which permitted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to go abroad for treatment.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan expressed these views while addressing the inauguration ceremony of IT driven facilities including a mobile app, call centre, complete video link facility in five courtrooms of the Supreme Court, research centre and an enhanced website to facilitate litigants and lawyers.

In reference to PM Imran’s statement in which the premier urged Justice Khosa and his successor to restore the public’s trust in the judicial system of the country, the CJP urged the PM to be careful while making any statements about the judiciary.

“The particular case that the respected prime minister referred to, I do not want to comment on that. But he [PM Imran] should know that they [the government] themselves allowed somebody [Nawaz Sharif] to go abroad. The debate in the High Court was only over modalities. Please be careful (with your statements).”

“Do not taunt us about siding with the powerful because everybody is equal before us [judges],” the chief justice warned, adding that the judges were doing their duty while considering it a ‘worship’.

The Chief Justice said that the judiciary has witnessed a silent revolution and the current judiciary should not be compared to that of 2009.

“For us, no one is either big or small, or powerful. We convicted one prime minister and disqualified another. A (former) chief of army staff’s case is about to be decided soon. Are these examples not in front of you? For us, only the law is powerful,” he said.

Justice Khosa said that they respect the position of the prime minister as he is the elected chief executive of the country but no one should issue derogatory statements about the judiciary.

The Chief Justice also did not seem impressed with Khan’s statements about functioning of the country’s judicial system as he said, “Everyone should know that the judges are working hard but no one is perfect”.

However, he welcomed the Prime Minister’s offer to provide extra resources to the judiciary and said such measures would go a long way in improving the things.

The top judge lamented that the judiciary is working without enough resources and only above 3000 judges gave verdicts in hundreds of thousands of cases last year. “If one high-profile case gets highlighted by media then it does not mean the 3.6 million cases by a mere 3,100 judges should lay forgotten.”

Justice Khosa praised judges for their dedication and commitment and said the cases disposed included those pending for 25 years. He emphasized that the dedication and impartiality of the institution should be respected.

“One female judge of a model court postponed her wedding as she wanted to conclude proceedings of a case,” he said. “When I witnessed the dedication and commitment of these judges, I couldn’t help but shed tears,” he said.

“Nobody is perfect. No institution, no human being is perfect. But if some people are working with such dedication, please encourage and facilitate them,” the CJP added.

He said that establishment of model trial courts across the country has yielded marvellous results and reduced the backlog of murder and narcotics cases, magistrate trials and civil appeals including those involving rent and family matters.

Justice Khosa said, “The model courts conducted trial of more than 73,000 cases in a short span of time and dispensed relief to the litigants by achieving target of zero pendency in most of districts or district headquarters across the country.

“Moreover, Supreme Court of Pakistan took steps for police reforms and post of SP Complaints was created in each district that has also reduced 30 percent burden of cases on district courts and 15 percent on High Courts.”

Justice Khosa said that technology would help dispense speedy justice to people. He said that Pakistani courts had the facilities that were in courts around the world. “Whatever we don’t have, we will strive to get,” he said. He said that now with the availability of a call centre, people can get updates about their cases by just placing a phone call.

“To facilitate complainants and lawyers, we introduced the video link system,” he said. “All four registries are linked with the principal seat via video link.” Justice Khosa said that as of now, five courts in the Supreme Court were connected to other registries via video link. “Lawyers can present their point of view via video link through the Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi and Lahore registries.”

At the end, the Chief Justice thanked the IT Committee of Supreme Court headed by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and other stakeholders including law ministry, Nadra, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL-P) US Department of State, US Department of Justice and COMSATS Islamabad. The committee has been formed to materialise the vision of expeditious and inexpensive justice through the application of information technology.

Later, Justice Khosa inaugurated the mobile app, 1818 Supreme Court Call Centre, video link in 5 Courts, Judicial Esta Code, Research Centre Progress and Website Enhancements.